We all want to feel valued. We all want to feel that we matter. And one way in which employers can help to engender this sense is through focusing their engagement and communications in a more personalised way.
It can be as simple as using someone’s name, targeting a communication directly to the recipient rather than a ‘dear all’ which an individual can opt out of. I have seen first-hand the impact of a management team personally addressing and signing a Christmas card for every single employee.
It can be through finding out one or two things about an employee – not deeply personal things but hobbies, for example, which can be brought out in conversation to build connectivity. Having a leader who asks an employee about a recent fishing trip for example, does more than provide conversational fodder. This demonstration of a leader who has listened and who is interested helps the employee to feel visible and recognised.
It can be through noticing what the employee does. This doesn’t always have to be conscious and deliberate, it can simply be recalling a report an employee has written – and mentioning it to them.
It can be through drawing an employee in when they may be feeling excluded. In meetings for example, which can often be challenging spaces for those who are more reticent and less confident to speak in a busy setting. A leader who deliberately serves to involve an employee in a considerate and careful way will again create that sense of value.
Of course, this personal approach to engagement is far easier within a smaller company or when all employees are under one roof. It can be much harder in a large operation with different sites or mobile workers.
But it can still be done. For example, the leadership of a multi-site organisation can ask for others to feed in with employee achievements from across the company – which they can subsequently recognise. It can be through the use of technology, including video, to engage. Nowadays, there is no reason why an introduction to the leader of an organisation cannot take place via Skype, for example. And employers can look for opportunities to personalise their engagement activities – why not a personalised ‘welcome’ card when a new recruit starts, or an invitation to an organisational event addressed directly to the employee?
Of course, targeting your communications and engagement can take time. But the pay off is worth the investment. Because employees will feel that they matter, that they are valued, that they aren’t just a number on a payroll. And they will reward this investment with commitment and motivation.
Because, after all, it is the people who make companies what they are.